May 31, 1995 in Food

Seasoned Singers Page And Plant May Be Middle-Aged, But Their Popularity With Fans Never Grows Old

Joe Ehrbar Correspondent
 

Page and Plant Saturday, May 27, The Gorge

Singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page launched Led Zeppelin into the twilight skies over The Gorge Saturday night.

It turned out to be more than just a night of celebrating the brilliant body of work cast over the years by Plant and Page; it was a dream come true for a large gathering of loyal Zeppelin fans.

Saturday’s concert was the final show of Page and Plant’s three-month U.S. tour. It was also the duo’s fourth show in the Pacific Northwest.

The audience exploded with cheers when it spotted the old rock heroes heading up the pathway to the stage. And as soon at the two arrived on stage, the roar grew exponentially.

In true Jimmy Page fashion, he stuck a cigarette in his mouth, strapped on his Les Paul guitar and blazed into the opening riff of the “Wanton Song.”

With only five band members on stage, Page and Plant followed up the initial surge with two more smoldering Led Zeppelin classics, “Bring It On Home” and “Ramble On,” both from 1969’s “Led Zeppelin II.”

After just three songs, it was obvious the concert would become a climactic, magical night of music.

The group’s early performance also wiped out any doubts people might have had about Page and Plant’s abilities as middle-aged men to conjure up mind-blowing personal performances. Both musicians have aged well.

Plant’s seasoned and confident voice can still soar into the stratosphere like it did in the ‘70s. He sang everything, including the songs that were a challenge to him when he was in his youth, dead-on, note for note.

And Page can still demonstrate his prowess as an innovative guitarist. He unleashed numerous spontaneous and affecting solos during the night.

Page, especially, shone on “Thank You.” His guitar solo, unpredictable as ever, coupled with the setting sun, steered the song in a surrealistic direction.

His riveting playing continued into the bluesy “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” during which he was accompanied by the string section of the Seattle Symphony.

Page wasn’t the only guitarist on stage. The band included guitarist Porl Thompson from the Cure. On the night’s most explosive song, “The Song Remains the Same,” Page and Thompson, who traded leads, shredded through the most blistering guitar work and successfully captured the song’s live essence. (Page and Thompson were also accompanied by a few hundred air guitarists in the audience through the course of the song.)

The concert took a couple of interesting twists. Page and Plant not only offered one song each from their solo releases, but they also played a Cure song called “Lullaby.”

In the latter part of the show, Page and Plant brought out the Egyptian Pharaohs, an eightpiece violin and percussion ensemble.

Together with the Seattle Symphony, the Egyptian Pharaohs gave the Led Zeppelin songs “Four Sticks,” “Dancing Days” and “In the Evening” an exotic, Middle Eastern edge.

By using these unconventional tactics, Page and Plant renewed the appeal of the Led Zeppelin material.

The legends concluded the night, and the rest of their American tour, in a dramatic manner with a colossal performance of the revamped “Kashmir,” one of the songs many fans identify Zeppelin with.

What was especially refreshing about Page and Plant’s performance was that the duo highlighted many of the obscure Led Zeppelin songs and avoided playing the monster hits “Stairway to Heaven,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Whole Lotta Love.”

Saturday’s concert was not a gathering of two dinosaurs on the verge of extinction trying to resurrect old and decrepit songs in the hopes of recapturing Led Zeppelin’s glory days - and a fat paycheck.

Rather, it was a chance for two phenomenal talents, who played a major role in shaping rock music, to make a rare appearance and reintroduce the timeless Zeppelin songs to its fans - both young and old - who have been longing for a Led Zep reunion for years.


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